Hold the body armor, please

By Amanda Finnegan
March 16, 2006

In Forbes’s “The World’s 50 Highest Paid Athletes” list for 2006, Tiger Woods topped of the list at number one. Including endorsement deals, prize money and appearance fees, Woods pulls in $80.3 million a year and never even has to break a sweat. For the blockbuster “Saving Private Ryan,” Tom Hanks made $40 million for playing Captain John H. Miller. But how much does our real military make a year? The average salary for a private first class is less than .5 percent of Hank’s salary for playing a solider. And that’s just out of one movie.

So America, where are our priorities? Do we value a good actor or talented athlete more than we appreciate the men and women who fight for us to have that freedom?

In 2004, Time Magazine gave their coveted “Person of the Year” award to the American solider and ever since then, support for the troops has dropped and the government has been making endless cuts on things our military desperately needs.

Military moms have to scramble to priority mail their sons bullet proof vests because the military no longer supplies body armor. While the government is trying to convince the public that it’s the war protests that are bringing down the morale of the troops, could it be the pay and supply cuts that are the cause of low esteem in our service men and women?

While Brittney Spears is rumored to throw out every pair of underwear after she wears them, our military is struggling for the bare essentials. During his nine month tour of duty in Iraq, my cousin was forced to wear the same pair of underwear and socks for his whole stay because the military doesn’t have enough funding to supply them. Sometimes sporting a little yellow ribbon on the red carpet or an hour long concert on a military base isn’t enough.

A mere $20,000 a year for 14 hour days year round just doesn’t seem like enough. It works out to a little less than $4 an hour for doing work that most Americans could not even fathom. For those who have children and spouses to support, this just doesn’t cut it.

Some may argue that those who enlist know what they are getting themselves into, specifically in this turbulent time, but no one can ever understand the devastation of Iraq until it is seen with ones own eyes.

Lately, it’s hard to decipher who America’s true heroes are. Instead of flocking to celebrities on the street, we should be flocking to our soldiers, giving thanks and telling them how much they inspire us everyday. Hitting a ball out of the park will never compare to fighting for the freedom of others and playing a solider in a movie will never compare to really being one. But maybe the paychecks should.

Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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Amanda Finnegan

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